James Joyce

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James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century. Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark novel which perfected his stream of consciousness technique and combined nearly every literary device available in a modern re-telling of The Odyssey. Other major works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939), and his complete oeuvre includes three books of poetry, a play, occasional journalism, and his published letters.

Joyce was born to a lower-middle class family in Dublin, where he excelled as a student at the Jesuit schools Clongowes and Belvedere, then at University College, Dublin. In his early twenties he emigrated permanently to continental Europe, living in Trieste, Paris and Zurich. Though most of his adult life was spent abroad, Joyce's fictional universe does not extend beyond Dublin, and is populated largely by characters who closely resemble family members, enemies and friends from his time there; Ulysses in particular is set with precision in the streets and alleyways of the city. Shortly after the publication of Ulysses he elucidated this preoccupation somewhat, saying, “For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.”[1]


1882–1904: Dublin

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was born on 2 February 1882 to John Stanislaus Joyce and Mary Jane Murray in the Dublin suburb of Rathgar. He was the eldest of ten surviving children; two of his siblings died of typhoid. His father's family, originally from Fermoy in Cork, had once owned a small salt and lime works. Joyce's father and paternal grandfather both married into wealthy families. In 1887, his father was appointed rate collector (i.e., a collector of local property taxes) by Dublin Corporation; the family subsequently moved to the fashionable adjacent small town of Bray 12 miles (19 km) from Dublin. Around this time Joyce was attacked by a dog, which engendered in him a lifelong cynophobia. He also suffered from keraunophobia, as his deeply religious aunt had described thunderstorms to him as a sign of God's wrath.[2]

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